As a watch collector, you could know the identify Louis Moinet. He’s the watchmaker who invented the chronograph, and the model that bears his identify is an exhibitor at Watches and Wonders Geneva. Alternatively, Moinet isn’t any Abraham-Louis Breguet nor Adrienne Philippe, and no grand workshop referred to as Louis Moinet ever graced Paris or Geneva. Slightly greater than 10 years in the past, the skills of this French watchmaker, artist and tutorial may need been unknown to you. Certainly, close to that point interval, a few of you would possibly as an alternative recall an excessive amount of fuss being made on the Salon Worldwide de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva over one other French watchmaker, the comparatively well-known Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec…
Rieussec was already within the books because the inventor of the chronograph in 1822, and his life was higher identified than Moinet’s, on condition that he was within the registry of energetic watchmakers in Paris as early as 1810. In 2012, nobody even knew Moinet’s birthplace, however a change was coming that might endlessly upend the opposite prevailing order in watchmaking. “We mentioned, from the Jura the place we have been, hi there, excuse us, however there’s a web page lacking from the historical past of watchmaking,” mentioned Les Ateliers Louis Moinet SA CEO and Artistic Director Jean-Marie Schaller.
Schaller is referring right here to a collection of occasions that confirmed the fundamental information of Moinet’s unique invention of the chronograph. You probably have not heard the story, it’s properly value a pay attention. Though we all know the story fairly properly, it was wonderful to listen to it once more from Schaller when he was in Singapore just lately to have fun his model’s unique retail association with Honest, on the SHH boutique at MBS. In any case, we recall being very shocked that Moinet had created a real stopwatch in 1816 that would observe elapsed time right down to 1/60th of a second. For some context, Rieussec’s chronograph was correct to 1 second, and that was lots adequate within the early 19th century.
This begs a couple of questions: what even is Les Ateliers Louis Moinet? Does it have something to do with the watchmaker Louis Moinet? And who’s Jean-Marie Schaller? To start with, the modern agency was based in 2004 by Schaller, a Swiss man from Delemont within the Jura who is totally unrelated to Moinet. A couple of different names come into focus earlier than the connection between Moinet and Schaller turns into established. One way or the other, it’s all tied into Schaller’s love of journey. Now there could also be some head scratching right here however for these within the find out about Swiss watchmaking, there may be nothing notably mysterious right here.
All of it begins with one other grand watchmaker, Breguet, which itself went by means of many tumultuous episodes. Whereas we imply the watchmaking agency Breguet, there’s a place right here for Abraham-Louis himself. Okay, we are able to really feel you staring daggers at us however we promise that all of it is sensible.
To make a protracted story shorter, when the Chaumet brothers acquired Breguet, in addition they received their palms on the archives and all method of historic paperwork. That is Breguet, a reputation that evokes watchmaking historical past, in spite of everything. The brothers introduced in a watchmaker of no small renown to assist them make sense of all of it, Daniel Roth. Sure, that Daniel Roth, the watchmaker whose model was developed in Asia by the Siber Hegner SA buying and selling firm. Schaller received his begin within the watchmaking commerce at Siber Hegner, and was accountable for making rising the Daniel Roth watchmaking model.
“I started with the Louis Moinet mission in 2000. It started as a laboratory, working from house with my spouse, subsequent to the kitchen, which positively appears to be a behavior on this business,” Schaller advised Monochrome final yr.
“One way or the other, I didn’t search for Louis Moinet. Louis Moinet seemed for me. That’s a wierd feeling, nevertheless it was my future. The identify was utterly forgotten, however folks stored speaking to me about it, specifically, Daniel Roth.”
“Jean-Marie, you should be on this identify (Louis Moinet), it’s meant for you,” Roth advised Schaller.
If all this appears like magical pondering, keep in mind that the historic achievements of Louis Moinet are all too actual. The watchmaker himself penned a guide referred to as “Traité d’Horlogerie” (Treatise on Watchmaking), which Elizabeth Doer of QP notes was acquainted to outstanding students resembling Dr Ludwig Oeschlin, Arnaud Tellier and Dominique Flechon. This work describes a watch referred to as the Compteur de Tierces, which was the end result of Moinet’s ambitions. In actual fact, Moinet labored on this watch whereas dwelling with Abraham-Louis Breguet, a truth Roth tumbled to when he labored on the archives. Moinet and Abraham-Louis labored on the identical handle from 1815 to 1823.
The Compteur de Tierces was began in 1815 and accomplished a yr later, and thus a hyperlink between the masters is given bodily kind. That is how Moinet described it in a letter: “I got here to Paris in 1815 with the only function of devising and making a compteur de tierces. The troublesome and rarely tried realisation of this instrument of a brand new development, has achieved my function most satisfactorily.”
This watch actually exists, and was bought at a Christie’s public sale in 2012; the hallmarks contained in the watch bear out its manufacturing historical past. Curiously, Doer notes that Tellier wrote the lot notes for the watch, which had an underwhelming estimate of CHF5,000. Schaller received it in a fierce bidding warfare, taking the worth to an order of magnitude above the estimate. The Compteur de Tierces was the watch that confirmed that Louis Moinet was certainly the inventor of the chronograph, as verified by the aforementioned specialists but additionally others who labored within the public sale enterprise. This was the large horological information of 2013, and the Compteur de Tierces would determine prominently in the way forward for Louis Moinet too.
This brings us again to the standing of the modern model Louis Moinet, which Schaller has constructed up from scratch and immediately produces some 500 distinctive watches yearly. Now, 500 watches don’t sound very a lot till you contemplate the phrase distinctive; Schaller started his journey eager to rescue a watchmaker from obscurity, and having succeeded, he doesn’t intend on spoiling issues by providing timid and tepid timepieces.
Wanting on the modern watches right here, you’ll not fail to be impressed. You may study any Louis Moinet watch on the SHH boutique to seek out 4 symbols the model makes use of to specific its values: uniqueness, creativity, inventive spirit and exclusivity. Louis Moinet immediately focuses on two pillars: Cosmic Artwork and Mechanical Wonders. Apparently, Cosmic Artwork could appear a far cry from Monet’s personal work, however he invented the Compteur de Tierces to time astronomical occasions or heavenly phenomena, not likely something on earth. The reference to Mechanical Wonders is clear, however we should pause to notice that the Compteur de Tierces was a high-beat watch, with its escapement beating at an unbelievable 216,000 vph, or 30 Hz. Such dizzying speeds have been certainly attainable again within the day, for distinctive watchmakers resembling Moinet. That’s the spirit behind the whole lot on the model Louis Moinet.
This isn’t to say that Schaller revels in Louis Moinet’s inner talents, nor does he elevate himself by affiliation. The model Louis Moinet lists its suppliers overtly, in a fashion each refreshing for the Swiss and maybe stunning. In case you ask Schaller why he selected this, when so many manufacturers (giant and small) make an enormous present of mastering the whole lot in-house, he goes quiet for a second earlier than saying merely “as a result of it’s not true (that manufacturers can do the whole lot in-house).” For Schaller, what’s essential is to seek out the fitting companions to execute his imaginative and prescient as a result of Louis Moinet is a collection of workshops, actually (Les Ateliers), and the Swiss custom of working with specialised suppliers is a vital a part of watchmaking. He notes that his companions, together with motion maker Concepto and casemaker FIMM, are constrained by NDAs from revealing who they work for, however Louis Moinet doesn’t require this. Maybe the truth that Moinet himself had spent so lengthy obscured by historical past informs Schaller’s thought course of right here.
Whereas we shouldn’t have the house to get into all the important thing references for the modern model, you’d do properly to go right down to the SHH boutique in Marina Bay Sands Singapore (Louis Moinet has an unique relationship with Honest Effective Watches in Singapore) and search for the hallmarks talked about earlier. Think about your self in Schaller’s place, wanting on the hallmarks inside the Compteur de Tierces for clues about its story. This stays key to understanding the emotional energy behind Louis Moinet.
For extra watch reads, click on right here.